The 242 GTC Turbo Is As Obscure And Awesome As Volvos Get

This Volvo coupe was intended to be a sportier alternative to the 262 C, but it never made it past the prototype stage

Remind me later
The 242 GTC Turbo Is As Obscure And Awesome As Volvos Get - Car History

Ask your average Volvo-loving petrolhead to name their favourite car of the Swedish company’s 200-series, and the chances are it’ll be the homologation version of the 240 Turbo.

It’s a pretty weird story. Volvo had to built 5000 of the things and a further 500 special ‘Evolution’ versions with larger turbos and other modifications to comply with Group A race regulations, although there’s some debate as to whether all 500 Evo cars were ever made. But there’s a much weirder Volvo from this period. Presenting: the 1978 242 GTC Turbo.

The 242 GTC Turbo Is As Obscure And Awesome As Volvos Get - Car History

Yep, another car with ‘Turbo’ in the name, from a time when a petrol car with forced induction was interesting and exotic. Unlike the 240 Turbo however, the GTC has been largely forgotten. Why? Because sadly, it never made it past the prototype stage.

It’s a curious-looking thing, isn’t it? From the bottom of the windows down it’s unmistakably a two-door 200-series, but from there up, it looks positively alien with its dramatically cut-down windscreen, windows and doors. There’s a good reason for that: the weird roof and glasshouse was the work of Bertone, shared with the 262 C (below), a car which did actually go into production.

The 242 GTC Turbo Is As Obscure And Awesome As Volvos Get - Car History

Unlike the 262 with its PRV V6, the 242 GTC was to be powered by inline-four engines: a naturally-aspirated 16-valve unit intended for motorsport, and a turbocharged B21 ‘Red Top’ producing around 170bhp.

This reflected Volvo’s aim to make the GTC a sportier alternative to the 262, further reinforced by a bunch of horizontal stripes that were supposed to give the illusion of the car sitting lower while also giving it more visual distinction.

According to Klassiker, the original prototype was actually built using a 262 C, and showcased to Volvo’s bigwigs via a photoshoot. The 242 GTC wouldn’t progress past this point.

The rehashed 262 was used by Volvo engineer Birger Fredriksson for a little while, before seemingly disappearing. Until that is, someone bought it. By accident.

Johnny Widén - the man you’ll see toward the end in the video above - purchased a car that was badged as a 262 C, but with some perplexing details. The front-end was different to a normal 262, and the interior wasn’t quite right either. There’s a good reason why: it’s the 242 GTC prototype, since resprayed silver and fitted with a PRV V6.

His plan? To restore it to GTC-spec, giving us a glimpse of a seriously cool Volvo that just wasn’t to be.